Archive for the ‘book reviews’ Category

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Show off your reviews in Facebook

Our new LTFL Reviews Facebook Pagetab feature lets you display recent reviews that have been written in your catalog right in Facebook—where your patrons are. This is a free update to any library that subscribes to our Reviews Enhancement. Make the most out of the reviews your patrons are writing and proudly show them off!

You can set it to show all recent reviews, or filter by category—show just the “staff picks” or “back to school” category you might have set up.

LibraryThing for Libraries Reviews Enhancement is a great addition to your library catalog—letting patrons rate and review right within your OPAC. You can also share reviews with hundreds of other libraries that use the service, as well as draw from over a million hand-vetted user reviews written by members.

The Reviews Facebook Pagetab feature dovetails nicely with the last feature we added: social media integration—allowing patrons to sign in with and post their reviews to Facebook and Twitter.

More: Reviews Blog Widget

a reviews blog widget

While we’re on the subject of showing off reviews, the Reviews Enhancement also comes with a reviews blog widget, which lets you display new reviews anywhere (not just on Facebook!). Try adding a widget to your library’s homepage or blog to highlight the activity in your catalog. See for example the homepage of the Cass District Library, the blog of City of Hayward Public Library, or how the City of Port Phillip Library shows off “recent reviews from our catalogue.” Like the Facebook Pagetab, this feature also comes free with a subscription to the Reviews Enhancement!

Instructions on creating reviews widgets are here.

How to get Reviews in Facebook

If your library currently subscribes to the Reviews Enhancement, it’s quite easy to bring reviews into Facebook. Instructions to get started are here.

If you don’t yet subscribe to Reviews, just let me know if you’d be interested in a free trial! (email

Labels: book reviews, facebook, librarything for libraries, ltfl, LTFL Reviews, new features, reviews, social media, social networking

Monday, June 8th, 2009

LTFL Reviews: you stand 300,000 deep

At the end of May, we reached 300,000 reviews vetted and available for LibraryThing for Libraries!

We’d previously been bragging about having 250,000 reviews, so here’s my core sample: at the beginning of April, we had 24 reviews for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. Now, we have 74. Of course, popular books will get more reviews, but trust me – we also cover the long, long tail of library collections.

The LTFL Reviews Enhancement is currently available for Horizon, iBistro, Webvoyage, Voyager 7, Koha, WebPac and WebPac Pro. The LTFL Catalog Enhancements are available for practically every OPAC. Contact us for more info.

Labels: book reviews, librarything for libraries, ltfl, milestone

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

LTFL Reviews now works with iBistro and Voyager catalogs

When we decided to add Reviews as an enhancement to LibraryThing for Libraries, we wanted to work on just a few OPACs at a time.

Otherwise, it would be 2010 before we finished Reviews (and no one wanted that). We started with Horizon Information Portal and WebPac, for a number of reasons*. Next, we decided to get iBistro and Voyager† on board.

We’ve had a couple of iBistro libraries add the Reviews Enhancement, but no Voyager libraries are live yet. You can check out the full list here.

* We knew the systems well, many libraries use them, and who doesn’t like saying HIP?
† I can’t talk about that particular OPAC without pronouncing it ‘vee-ger’ in my head. I’m pretty sure it’s just me.

Labels: book reviews, enhancement, ExLibris, iBistro, librarything for libraries, ltfl, sirsidynix, Voyager

Friday, October 24th, 2008

New: Recent library reviews widget

Following on the release of LibraryThing for Libraries’ new Reviews Enhancement, I’ve created a widget for libraries to show off their most recent reviews.

These are the three libraries that are live so far.

Recent reviews from High Plains Library District

Recent reviews from Los Gatos Public Library

Recent reviews from Mount Laurel Library

Update: Our Mount Laurel is having some trouble with book titles. We’ll fix it soon.

Labels: book reviews, librarything for libraries, widgets

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

Introducing Reviews for LibraryThing for Libraries!

We’ve just released a new feature for LibraryThing for Libraries: Reviews. We’ve been working on this for months, and are itching to show it to you. (If you’re at Internet Librarian in Monterey, come by the booth for a full demonstration.)

The idea is simple:

  • Your library patrons get to review anything in your library.
  • Libraries share reviews, so a critical mass can build.
  • Implementation is absurdly simple—one short piece of JavaScript added to the catalog template. Period.

The “extras” send it into orbit:

  • It comes with 200,000 high-quality, vetted reviews from LibraryThing.
  • Your patrons get blog widgets and a Facebook application to show off their reviews—and their love for their library. Don’t get why this is great? Keep reading.

Check it out. Three libraries are currently showing reviews, together with the other LibraryThing for Libraries enhancements–similar books, tags and other editions and translations. Click on the reviews wording (see above) to launch the reviews “lightbox.”

Reviews in your catalog. The reviews wording shows up on all detail pages–not just books. You can also elect to show reviews on “search” or “list” pages. (Neither Los Gatos or High Plains have done this.)

LibraryThing for Libraries is not an “external” service. Everything happens in the catalog, not on some external site. “Reviews” works the same way. Like the rest of LTFL, it loads after the rest of the page, so it doesn’t slow it down.

Lightbox magic. Other reviews solutions have either put showing and editing reviews in an external window–kludgy and likely to trigger pop-up alerts–or shoe-horned reviews into the catalog page, mucking it up and subjecting reviews to space and style constraints.

We decided to do something different, putting reviews in a “lightbox,” like our Tag browser. This combines the best of both solutions–in-place action and a rock-solid, stylish look. Reviews are in the catalog, but they aren’t imprisoned by it.

Two-hundred thousand LibraryThing reviews. We think LibraryThing for Libraries reviews, especially with our widgets and Facebook app., are going to push patron reviewing to a new level. But the fact remains that no library project has yet managed to get patrons reviewing on the scale of an Amazon or a LibraryThing. And nothing kills people’s incentive to review than a desert–like restaurants, emptiness begets emptiness and success success.

So we’re kicking in over 200,000 LibraryThing reviews–gently vetted by LibraryThing staff.

These 200,000 reviews put LibraryThing miles ahead of our only “reviews” competitor, Chilifresh. They doesn’t release totals, but their numbers are low. Here for example are Chilifresh vs. LibraryThing for Libraries numbers for the last eight Pulitzer winners:

Pulitzer Prize winners Chilifresh LibraryThing
2008 The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz 1 review 24 reviews
2007 The Road by Cormac McCarthy 8 reviews 199 reviews
2006 March by Geraldine Brooks 1 review 50 reviews
2005 Gilead by Marilynne Robinson 0 reviews 45 reviews
2004 The Known World by Edward P. Jones 1 review 40 reviews
2003 Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides 1 review 120 reviews
2002 Empire Falls by Richard Russo 1 review 32 reviews
2001 The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon 1 review 69 reviews
2000 Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri 0 review 27 reviews

When push comes to shove, you don’t need 199 reviews. But Putlizer winners are popular books. When a popular book has 199 reviews, less popular books will have five or ten. Conversely, if Gilead and Interpreter of Maladies can’t get a review, the rare stuff definitely won’t have it.

Want to blog that table? (I wish you would. It took me forever to make.) Here’s the HTML.

My reviews at Los Gatos Public Library

Blog widgets and Facebook application. I do a lot of talking about “User Generated Content” (a horrible, dehumanizing phrase). Again and again I hit one point that–I think–Library 2.0 too often misses: User Generated Content isn’t about “getting something”–it’s about giving something.

People don’t review books to help a library, or even their community. They do it to get something back–a record of what they read and an opportunity to express themselves–and express themselves to the people they know.

This means two things. First, unlike some other systems, we made sure every member had a page–and one with a permanent link, so they could send it to friends. And second, it meant that we make sure patrons could showcase their reviews outside of their library catalog, where they “live” on the web. Both options are available from review members’ “settings” page.

Check out LibraryThing for Libraries’ “Reviews at My Library” on Facebook in the screen-shot. (The application is here, but you need to have a Facebook membership to get to it.) Here’s the blog widget in action:

More soon. I’ve got to run to our booth at Internet Librarian, but I’ll blog more soon. LibraryThing members will want to know how the two systems connect.*

*Members can opt-out of their reviews being seen in libraries–just edit your profile, although, because of caching, changes are not immediate.

Labels: book reviews, internet librarians, librarything for libraries, new features

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

Does authenticity matter? (The case of Marié Digby)

The Wall Street Journal has an excellent piece on Marié Digby, a “YouTube sensation” that turns out to be a sort of recording-industry stool pigeon. As it turns out, Digby’s ascent has been carefully orchestrated by a major label, and everyone’s been lying about it, not least twenty-three year old singer herself.

It’s going to be an interesting test case for Web 2.0. Everyone says that “millenials” value authenticity more than anything. Sites like YouTube have stoked things, but there has always been something extraordinary about finding something interesting, instead of having it pushed on you.*

There’s a good post about this on the Matchmine blog, asking why this stuff makes us “feel so dirty.” One explanation is particularly good: We want to believe we’re one idea away.

“The web has made celebrities out of regular people, and billionaires out of ham and eggers. Or at least that’s what we want to believe. There is something optimistic about the web; there is a feeling of opportunity here. I think that many people are hungry for examples of ‘amateur has idea, takes it to the web, makes it big.'”

I find this idea appealing, and I think it’s been responsible for some of LibraryThing’s success—that people know it was a hobby project of a booklover (me) that took off. If it was revealed that LibraryThing was some sort of astroturf plot by Borders or Amazon, I think people would react quite negatively.** I know this how we felt when an author created sock-puppet accounts on LibraryThing to shower her book with positive reviews. Of course, we blew her accounts away, but one employee—not me—was so angry he took the time to add creative insults to her Amazon page.*** How dare she?

Maybe I’m idealistic, but I hope the Digby stunt backfires in the same way. I’m something of an old-fogey when it comes to music and copyright. But, if I liked her music, I’d go the extra mile to steal it.

*For my senior thesis at Georgetown I ended up reading a lot of antebellum literary reviews from the South, looking for images of anient Greece. The writers that filled these journals are mostly quite forgotten and, particular as concerns the poets, rightly so. Anyway, one day I came across the poem “To Helen” and thought “Wow! Has anyone noticed this before?” Pseudonyms and initials-only names are the norm in these things, and not all have been subsequently deciphered by scholars. So I took down the initials and prepared to look them up in an index to these things. “E. A. P.” Oh, dammit, I just discovered Poe!
**Against this idea, we have our largest competitor, started by music people, funded by Amazon and responsible for a lot of astroturfing blog comments. It hasn’t hurt them… yet.

Labels: authenticity, book reviews, marié digby, ugc, user generated content, web 2.0